Cool panniers (oh yes, they do exist!) from Iron and Resin, some tough-ass armoured winter gloves from Helstons, a toasty leather flight vest from ELMC, a different take on Kevlar jeans from Pandos, and Ornamental Conifer's collaboration with Barstow. All in this weeks' Gear Guide.
PRODUCT REVIEW BY THE BSMC'S STEVE SIMMONDS - PANDO MOTO TAMSTA JEANS
Unless I’m going somewhere where I will definitely end up doing some motorway miles, and even then, I’m a regular jean wearing son of a female dog. So to get a chance to try out these new jeans from Lithuania based ‘Pando’ was a match made in jean heaven.
They describe these as “ specially constructed for motorcycle enthusiasts
” and they’ve done a grand job. Made from selvedge denim, these jeans are covered with DuPont TM Kevlar® lining to protect hip, knees and thighs. All adding that extra layer of protection against our worst fears. A result for someone like me who literally wears jeans 24/7.
They have also added pretty discrete slots to house knee protectors. I don’t have any yet, but as these will definitely now be upgraded to my number one riding pair I will upgrade with some further plastic protection.
So enough of the technical stuff, what are they like as a jean. In three words – soft, slim and stylish. Seriously soft to the touch, I’m taking their word there’s Kevlar in them, but you sure as hell can’t feel it! Very rich in colour, which I’m sure will age well, I’ve not washed them yet, and won’t for a while as with most selvedge denim, but these feel like a quality jean and I expect them to wear well.
The pockets for the knee protectors are barely visible and they way they’ve ribbed the denim just above all adds to the comfort so you don’t feel anything ‘odd’ around the knee..
These are a slim fit, and I wasn’t born with ‘Slim legs’ but they have got the balance just right and I fit into these perfectly, some slim ‘regular’ jeans I’ve tried I can barely get past my calf!! Also, unless I’ve lost weight without knowing it, they come up slightly on the large size, I normally vary between a 30 and a 32 wasit and these I still have room for a few pies in the 30”. Which in my mind helps add to the feel good factor of this quality jean - thoroughly recommended.
PRODUCT REVIEW - ELMC BIKER FLIGHT VEST
Having featured the flight vest a few months back in the Gear Guide, I fancied it so much I ordered myself one. It took a little while to come as ELMC produce in very small runs, but when it finally arrived it was well worth the wait. What never ceases to amaze me is the quality of ELMC's products, these are constructed to the highest standards that result in literally flawless items. ELMC must have some of the highest quality control standards in operation.
The vest is shearling lined and fits close to the body. The leather is a traditional hide used in WW2 flying jackets and is incredibly robust. The vest is warm, but being sleeveless it breathes, so is not stifling. I've worn it under my Vanson/Union Garage waxed cotton Robinson jacket, and has kept me snug as a bug on my winter commutes. I've also worn it under my flight jacket on really cold days and it's kept my core warm. It's cut high on the waist so it doesn't bunch up under the jacket.
It's a good looking vest, so once at work or at the pub it looks great over a shirt or a jumper, and even in the bracing early spring it can be worn without a jacket.
Gary of Eastman Leather, is a 30+ year veteran of reproducing high-quality, authentic, wartime military issue flight jackets, so this is no mere fashion item. This is fit for purpose.
In Gary's own words, "All of the materials and components are produced to the highest degree of quality and authenticity possible. The leather and sheepskin garments are all made at our factory in Devon, UK. The hides are custom made exclusively for us - nothing is from off-the-shelf merchants. Essentially, no expense has been spared in the sourcing of materials and quality manufacturing.
The Biker Flight Vest is a testament to this ethos, and will become a staple of my kit for years to come.
PRODUCT REVIEW BY THE BSMC'S ROSS SHARP- HELSTONS TITAN WINTER GLOVES
OK, so the clocks have gone back here in the U.K. and Jack Frost has finally listened to the repeated calls to bugger-off, but for those of you with reptile-like circulatory systems an early morning start can still bring rigour to one's digits. In a perfect example of poor preparation resulting in piss poor performance I ordered a pair of Helstons Titan Winter gloves with just a few weeks left of winter.
Helton are a French brand who make smart, traditionally inspired gear whilst integrating modern materials and tech processes. Check out their website
for more info.
The gloves are made from a super-soft, deep brown, greased cow leather, also available in black, and feature hard knuckle armour and softer padding around the Ulner part of the wrist. There are also additional abrasion resistant kevlar panels on the palm. For me though the combination of protection and warmth was the balance that needed striking. As I'm sure most of you will concur, there's nothing worse than being toasty warm if you end up fumbling around like a cosmonaut croupier.
I usually order XL, so did the same in this instance, unfortunately Heltons sizing (an 11) is a little generous, with a little too much overhang at the end of the fingers. These were swapped for a Large (Helstons 10) which are snug but with that feeling they'll give just enough to be comfortable after only a couple of rides.
The lining feels similar to 3M's Thinsulate and is breathable, while the wind-facing side has a synthetic fur lining which is teddy bear soft and aids slipping one's hand in without too much swearing and hand gymnastics.
So far these gloves have proved to be waterproof, although a proper deluge test has luckily been missing from my commute thus far. One gripe I would have is that the carbon fibre knuckle guard appears to have been modelled on teenage girl's hand. The knuckle on my index finger remains exposed while the other three seem to be shrouded. The XL initially ordered also suffered from this, but to a lesser degree as the mould is clearly a different size.
If you're an early riser or live somewhere more frigid than the scenes depicted in custom bike films of late then the Titan is a good option. At £79.99 they are a fair bit of an outlay but the quality suggests longevity won't be an issue. I'll be keeping these at the bottom of my bag just in case the British winter extends it's unwelcome grip into April.
BARSTOW x ORNAMMENTAL CONIFER GOGGLES
Barstow have quickly become a staple of the scrambler end of the retro-custom scene, making super cool goggles that actually work well. They're built to a very strict ethos...
"But as much as we want to re-capture the essence of what MX racing was in its early years, we care about our safety. Let’s face it: vintage riding gear was basic, uncomfortable and, overall… not very safe. Goggles? Same. Their fit was mostly a joke. They sucked air, they sucked dust. They sucked… period.
So Barstow have designed a goggle that has the vintage looks but with contemporary safety and comfort standards.
These are a collaboration with artist and biker in the blood, Nico, of Ornamental Conifer. He's been painting up pretty much anything bike he can get his hands on - lids, tanks, jackets - so it's no surprise that he's taken up the challenge of a pair of collaboration goggles.
These look terrific and really do the job, and as my grumpy mate James Clark observes "These Barstow Ornamental Conifer MX goggles are just a lovely mix of form and function
." If you know James, that's quite some testament!
The frame is black-matt with orange/beige pinstripes, with a smoke tinted anti-fog lens, with one extra transparent lens included in the box. Thee are super comfortable due to a triple-layer foam face pad, allowing a large field of view with good ventilation.
The goggles have a wide light brown strap with Nico's "off the beaten track" design. These are a 100% USA made and are just lovely to boot.
IRON & RESIN x SONS OF TRADE PANNIERS
Normally sported by our spandex clad pedally brethren or our Gortexed weekend explorers cousins on their adventure bikes, panniers are just not, well, how can I put it, cool.
But here's the dilemma, what if you actually want to cover some miles on your custom ride, and even heaven forbid, actually travel overnight, and need to carry something a little more substantial than your iPhone and your fancy leather wallet on a string?
Created in collaboration with Sons Of Trade, Iron and Resin have manufactured a sturdy saddle bag to outfit most vintage and custom motorcycles - panniers that are practical, durable and will satisfy even the most pedantic aesthete.
A roll-top closure opens to spacious interior and features a configurable strap system that attaches easily to even the most elaborately minimalist subframe. It converts to a messenger-style bag with long strap or use attached grab handle for easy carrying off the motorcycle and into your favourite craft-brew artisan beer establishment.
Constructed from durable coated cotton canvas with a reinforced bottom and easy-to-clean custom-branded lining, it has leather edging and custom antique brass hardware. Each bag is a healthy 12”W x 23”H x5”D, with 1380 cubic inches of storage space.
I&R advise that it '....works best on bikes with a single side exhaust, rear frame, and rear shocks. Or, bikes that have exhaust pipes that run at least 22" below the seat frame.
Excellent. Pack up the tent and lets get going.